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This Week in Immigration – En Español

September 25, 2009 - Posted by Katherine Vargas


The disappointment about the President’s apparent lack of leadership on immigration within the immigrant community has been particularly palpable in the last few weeks as reflected in news and opinion columns in Spanish language media. The health insurence reform debate continues to unfold and restricitionists in Washington —armed with lies, not facts—threaten to derail meaningful action on health insurancereform by using their favorite boogeyman: Immigrants.


In great dismay, the Latino and immigrant community saw the Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress “folding in the face of a heckler” and tightening up restrictions and expanding flawed citizenship verification programs rather than standing up against the disinformation spread by Joe Wilson & Co.  Frustration over Washington’s actions grows as immigrants and Latinos find themselves being demonized and used as scapegoats during the health insurance reform debate:


First, a column by North Carolina reporter Rafael Prieto Zartha titled “Cowardice Season” and published at the immigration opinion web portal:


Rafael begins with a vivid narration of the 2008 Charlotte Observer report on the maimed and deformed hands of undocumented workers working at North Carolina’s meatpacking plants. The report exposed the dozens of deaths and injuries suffered by the immigrant poultry workers and consequently brought the indignation of Members of Congress:


Despite of the uproar felt in Washington by the crude reality of the amputations suffered by the workers in the meatpacking plants, today, in the same halls in Congress, they firmly strive to deny healthcare coverage to workers that without a doubt urgently need it.


…CIS, the think tank of the anti-immigrants, is absolutely clear about its objectives and how they will use its “findings” against immigrants and healthcare.

What a stark contrast with Democratic politicians who in the last few days have been folding over the viral pressure of anti-immigrant forces. They are turning their back on the Hispanic community who voted for change during the November elections. The promises and commitment that their undocumented brothers would be treated as human beings and would be legalized is blurring away.


Temporada de Cobardía, September 21, 2009 (Translated by Katherine Vargas)



Maria Elena Salinas, one of the most recognized and influential Hispanic journalists in the U.S., writes in her syndicated column:


The immigration reform debate has begun and we haven’t even started to debate immigration reform. As Congress attempts to restructure the healthcare system, the public option – the issue that many thought would be the most explosive – has stepped to the side to give way to one of the most polarizing issues of our time: immigration


…while the strictest and most anti-immigrant provisions of the healthcare reform bill might be targeted to appease critics, the fundamental message seems to be: “We want immigrants out our country” and more specifically, Latino immigrants.


…As Janet Murguía, President of the National Council of La Raza said, this country should not allow for a person shouting to the President to dictate healthcare policy. Nor should we allowed the negative tone of the healthcare debate to risk the much needed reform of our immigration system.

        The debate begins, September 21, 2009


A similar theme can be seen in Los Angeles based news paper La Opinión; a column by Jorge Delgado titled “Wilson Won”


Everyday it is more and more evident that the anti-immigrant movement is wining battle after battle.  The last general to claim victory was Joe “You lie” Wilson. On the Obama Administration front, the first one to surrender was the Montana Senator, and chair of the Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus.


Wilson might have received a reprisal for screaming “You Lie” to the president, but its outburst gave him a more significant victory. After the scandal, the right pressured Congress and the Democratic Party – through Baucus – had to yield in the face of the Republican Party and conservative Democrats.

… the [restrictionist immigration] measures might had the goal of appease the anti-immigrant groups but they have no effect in practice, when the goal is to ensure that nobody is left behind without access to healthcare.


The extreme right is asking for the head of the undocumented as their war trophy in every battle they engage, and what we have seen so far is that this is a price that the current Administration is willing to pay, contrary to what they may tell us.


Wilson Ganó, September 23, 2009 (Translated by Katherine Vargas)               

“Week in Immigration En Español” is occasionally weekly feature of ImmPolitic.

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